Command & Conquer (C&C) is a series of hugely influential Real-Time Strategy games.
Born in 1995 with the game Command & Conquer (commonly known as Tiberian Dawn following the release of later C&C games), C&C was one of the first popular Real-Time Strategy games and, along with titles such as Dune II and Warcraft, helped to spread the genre and set gameplay standards still followed today, such as the shrouded map, base construction and expansion, resource harvesting, tech trees, faction-specific units (not to mention play styles), superweapons, and of course, multiplayer combat. The original C&C was a smash hit revered as "nearly synonymous with RTS gaming" by reviewers and fans alike, and for the most part subsequent games have lived up to the first game's expectations.
The series was created by Westwood Studios, which was bought by Electronic Arts right before the release of Tiberian Sun, recognizing the potential profits of the critically-acclaimed series. Westwood Studios continued making Command and Conquer games until EA dissolved them after the failure of C&C Renegade (and right before the release of Generals). Most of the team left EA for Petroglyph Studios, while those left joined the EA Los Angeles studios. This put the future of the series, including the much awaited Command and Conquer 3, in jeopardy. For several years, there were rumors of work on C&C 3 fueled by some old concept art and an announcement that the next C&C game was going to be Red Alert 3 by an executive producer who left EA soon after. This all ended when EA revealed the series was Uncanceled, with the new installment subtitled Tiberium Wars.
Since the games all have Multiple Endings, the good guys usually win. The canonical winners are listed. However, in Firestorm (C&C 2 expansion) and Tiberium Wars (C&C 3) each campaign shows a different side of the same events. The campaign ends the same in each case, but from a different angle, and you have to play all three campaigns (and Kane's Wrath) to find out what really happened.
The series is also known for its immensely complicated version of canon. Due to the merging of and changing production studios and loads and loads of Executive Meddling, nobody really agrees on what is canon, although the current owners of the franchise have set theirs in stone, as seen above. Westwood Studios originally wrote Command & Conquer Tiberian Dawn as a standalone game with plans for a expansion pack that involved Time Travel. This was eventually re-written and combined with their plans for a WWII RTS into the prequel Red Alert, and plans for Tiberian Sun, a sequel to Tiberian Dawn, were made. Then EA acquired Westwood, and changed things around to how it is presented above. Safe to say, someone, somewhere, has decided not to include at least one of the games in the canon.
20 Minutes into the Future. This strange plant/crystal/organism spreads rapidly, and has a number of unusual properties. Most importantly, it leeches minerals from wherever it grows and creates large (semi-radioactive and highly toxic) crystals. As a simple way to gather minerals, they're a very valuable resource. Side effects include death, mutation, and xenoforming, and the stuff is more virulent than Japanese knotweed.
- Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn (1995): Dune II was the Trope Codifier, but this was the one that made the RTS genre, much like Catacomb Abyss and Doom for FPS games. A terrorist organization called the Brotherhood of Nod, led by the enigmatic Kane, use their control of many Tiberium sources to gain power. They start Tiberium research and harvesting to back their efforts to become a viable enemy to the Global Defence Initiative (GDI), a punched-up future arm of the United Nations. A war erupts between them that fights its way across Africa (Nod campaign) and Europe (GDI campaign). Canon says the GDI won.
- Command & Conquer: The Covert Operations (1996): The mandatory expansion pack doesn't add new story, except for a hidden campaign pitting players against dinosaurs: the add-on was created at the height of the Jurassic Park movie craze.
- C&C: Sole Survivor (1997): A poorly-received multiplayer-only sequel. Seemingly victim to Canon Discontinuity.
- Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun (1999): Set in the dark future, the emergence of Tiberium has boosted human technology to unimaginable levels and Spider Tanks are common items. The apparent resurrection of Kane results in the resurgence of Nod, and the Second Tiberium War breaks out. This time, the effects of Tiberium are causing more environmental damage - parts of the globe are entirely hostile to life. During the game, the discovery of alien spaceships and other technology brings new light to the origin of Tiberium. Again, canonically, GDI wins.
- C&C: Renegade (2002): First-Person Shooter sequel that parallels the GDI campaign in Tiberian Dawn. Not so well received by some critics, although it received overall good reviews, plus the modding community loves it, and hundreds of people still play it on multiplayer every day.
- Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars (2007): Set in 2047, another war between Nod and GDI erupts following Kane's reappearance. Invading aliens called the Scrin join as a third side, and are revealed to be the cause of the Tiberium infestation. Tiberium continues to make the world even less habitable for humanity. Canonically, all sides' storylines are correct, with the series being written to show multiple perspectives. Generally considered as the best game in the Tiberium series so far, both in terms of gameplay and storyline.
- Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath (2008): The next installment, Kane's Wrath focuses on the series Big Bad Kane, with the campaign spanning from the end of Firestorm to 11 years after Tiberium Wars. Also adds two subfactions to each army with specialized attack styles. Kane wins this round despite losing most of his army, capturing both MacGuffins (of course, he specifically states, in cutscene, that Nod being "but a shadow of what it once was" is exactly "as it should be").
- Tiberium: A Squad-based FPS set in the years following Tiberium Wars. Canceled by EA due to "not meeting standards".
- Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight (2010): The grand finale for the Tiberium series. As humanity is teetering on the brink of extinction due to the Tiberium infestation, Kane unexpectedly allies himself with GDI and helps them set up the "Tiberium Control Network", which allows Tiberium to be controlled at will and used as an inexpensive power source. 15 years later, as humanity enters a new golden age, extremists from both factions reignite the conflict between them. Either story can be construed as canon, and the story ends the same way regardless. New features include different faction "classes" such as Offense, Defense, and Support, persistent player profiles and experience systems that unlock new units and structures, and mobile bases called Crawlers. There is only one game mode, Domination, with fixed GDI and Nod opposite teams and no chance of a Free for All. Despite some arguably well-thought developments, the game fell short of most fans' expectations, and was comparatively poorly received by critics.
- Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight Mobile: An adaptation of the Tiberian Twilight game for mobile phones, which set in the interim period between Kane's Wrath and 2062, focuses on the events that lead up to the Manchester meeting in original Tiberian Twilight.
- Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances (2012): A browser game which is developed by EA Phenomic. It is set between the Third and Fourth Tiberium War eras and programmed in HTML5 to allow playing on the desktop and mobile devices.
- Command & Conquer: Rivals (2018): A mobile game developed by EA Redwood Studios, it's not really set in any canonical timeframe and is entirely focused on pvp skirmishes.
World War II, Albert Einstein creates a time machine to remove Hitler from history...which turns out to be a big mistake. This creates an alternate timeline in which the USSR invades Europe instead of Germany, sparking a war even worse than the one Einstein prevented. The basic premise: What If? the Cold War went hot? The series is notable for having units based off conspiracy theories and what-if weaponry, such as Tesla coil weaponry, teleporters, and Time Machines. As a result, this series became the resident jokester of the franchise; though it started as a fairly staid and relatively straight-up alternate history, it ended up as a bright, cheery, campy world of nonsensical destruction.
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert (1996): Due to Einstein's meddling, an alternative World War II erupts between Europe and the USSR. Originally meant to be a prequel to Tiberian Dawn. Notably serious about the setting, at least compared to the sequels.
- Red Alert: Counterstrike, Red Alert: The Aftermath (1997): expansion packs that, like Covert Operations, do not add to the storyline except for a secret campaign. This time, it's against giant ants.
- Red Alert: Retaliation (1998): A console version of the Red Alert expansions, with new FMV cutscenes. Basically, you follow an American or Soviet Commander's campaign.
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 (2000): After the Soviet defeat in Red Alert, the Allied-chosen Soviet Premier Romanov rebuilds the USSR military and invades America in the 1970's. The series, already ham-acted and somewhat over-the-top, fully embraces camp.
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 (2008): The series just goes completely gaga. The Soviet Union averts collapse by using its own time travel technology to eliminate Einstein, creating the Empire of the Rising Sun for a three-way free-for-all. The side with the attack dolphins and freeze ray-wielding helicopters is the boring one, compared to the Soviet armoured bears and transport units that shoot troops out of a cannon, or the Empire's Magical Girl cross between Tetsuo and River Tam, submersible planes and Humongous Mecha; and they're led by J. K. Simmons, Tim Curry and George Takei respectively. It's also notable for basing the entire campaign mode around cooperative play, with every mission having two armies controlled by separate players. This doesn't mean single player gameplay isn't possible, seeing as the game also supplies you with AI controlled "sub-commanders", each with their own personalities.
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3: Uprising (2009): A download-only stand-alone expansion pack featuring 4 mini-campaigns: one for each faction set in the aftermath of the Allies' (canonic) victory and a bonus campaign telling the origin of Yuriko Omega. It also contains a "Commander's Challenge" mode featuring 50 unique challengers. Curiously, it doesn't contain any multiplayer elements, most likely due to the introduction of unbelievably overpowered units. While the full Uprising package is only for PC, the Commander's Challenge mode (sans campaigns) is available on PS3 and Xbox 360.
Age of Empires and Blizzard's Starcraft and Warcraft series than Command & Conquer), Generals is set 20 Minutes into the Future.
- Command & Conquer: Generals (2003): The three sides go to war (the USA and China are allied, but there's a rogue general who sides with the GLA that needs a spanking). The storyline goes China, GLA, USA, with the USA canonically winning in the end. The pull of this game is that the three teams have very different play styles. (Not everyone was pleased with the national stereotyping.) It also has the General system; as you rise in power throughout the game, you are afforded more resources (as a military leader would be in real life), allowing you to customize a list of resources and superpowers. This is later expanded on in...
- Generals: Zero Hour (2003): The obligatory Expansion Pack. More battles between the factions with upgraded units and somewhat more story. Canonically, the US retreats from Europe after the GLA attacks several major cities, and China comes out on top as the world's largest superpower under the new name of the Eurasian Unity League, thanks to finally eliminating the GLA. Also adds three generals to each army, each of which specializes in a specific type of warfare.
- Command and Conquer (formerly Generals 2, later cancelled): The next game in the series, developed by Bioware, as revealed on December 10th, 2011. Set ten years after the events of Zero Hour, Command and Conquer starts with the world about to enter into a treaty which would effectively end war - only to be interrupted by the GLA, with everyone in attendance (read: almost all world leaders and politicians) being killed. As an end result, the majority of leaders present in the game are thus the (formerly) eponymous Generals. The three confirmed factions are the GLA itself, the newly formed APA (Asia-Pacific Alliance, according to pre-release talks from the creators) and what seems to be the European Union, after having bounced back enough from Zero Hour. The game's name changing from C&C: Generals 2 to the current name came with re-tooling it as a free-to-play RTS, the first in a series of other F2P games set in the C&C universe. However, alpha testing of the game didn't turn up the positive feedback the team was hoping for, causing it's cancellation.
Despite the Red Alert series remaining vastly popular, the very negative reception of both C&C4: Tiberium Twilight and the C&C 2013 Alpha meant they both turned out as a collective Franchise Killer. On October 29, 2013, the Command and Conquer 2013 game was officially canceled and EA Los Angeles, as well as all subsidiaries such as Victory Games, was shut down for good. Despite this, the series hit 30 million sales at its peak (during 2009), and its more popular games are still being kept alive by the fandoms and modding communities.